Please welcome Karen Smith from, Glimpses of Faith and Struggles, for this week’s edition of Word Nerd Wednesday as she looks at the history and profound significance of something so seemingly simple – unleavened bread.
Unleavened is an adjective. Adjectives describe. They answer questions such as what kind, which one, how many, and whose. I think we can ask, what kind of bread is unleavened bread? The word ‘unleavened’ is actually “azumos” and it means unfermented, free from leaven, uncorrupted. Unleavened bread is bread free from leaven or yeast! Without yeast, the bread does not rise and remains rather flat.
Old Testament Unleavened Bread
We first find mention of this bread in Exodus. God commands the Israelites to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Exodus 12:17, “And ye shall observe the feast of unleavened bread; for in this day have I brought your armies out of the land of Egypt…”
Exodus 12:39, “With the dough the Israelites had brought from Egypt, they baked loaves of unleavened bread. The dough was without yeast because they had been driven out of Egypt and did not have time to prepare food for themselves.”
God is telling the Israelites they are going to remember His work in their lives by celebrating this feast in the years to come. This practice is in commemoration of their exit from Egypt. Later in Leviticus 23:6, “And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the Feast of Unleavened Bread to the LORD; for seven days you shall eat unleavened bread,” we find more information as it relates to the Feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days, unleavened bread should be consumed.
As we move forward in the Old Testament, we find unleavened bread was to be used as peace offerings. In Judges 6, we see Gideon commanded to take meat and unleavened bread on a rock and pour broth over it. The angel of the Lord touched the meat and unleavened bread with the tip of his staff; fire flamed from the rock and consumed the offering. Unleavened bread is a remembrance of what God did and a peace offering.
New Testament Unleavened Bread
In the first three gospels of the New Testament, we find mention again of unleavened bread. In each gospel, unleavened bread is mentioned related to Passover or the Feast of Unleavened Bread. However, unleavened bread is about to take on a new meaning. In Luke 22, Jesus tells his disciples of his eagerness to eat with them before His suffering begins. He reminds them that He won’t eat this meal with them again until the Kingdom of God is fulfilled. Luke 22:19 states,
“He took some bread and gave thanks to God for it.
Then he broke it in pieces and gave it to the disciples, saying,
‘This is my body, which is given for you.
Do this in remembrance of me.’”
For generations, people have been celebrating Passover with unleavened bread. However, at this moment, in an upper room with His disciples, Jesus reveals to them that the unleavened bread is a representation of Him! A representation of the sacrifice that He was about to make. His sacrifice would change lives for eternity. Unleavened bread–Jesus Christ, peace offering, remembrance of what God did.Unleavened bread--Jesus Christ, peace offering, remembrance of what God did. @KarenSmith #wordnerdwednesday #unleavenedbread Click To Tweet
Body of Christ
Unleavened bread symbolizes Christ’s body given for us. Looking again at Luke 22, I find it interesting that the first thing Jesus does with the representation of His body, is to first give thanks. Second, He breaks the bread into pieces.
We, as believers, are referred to as Christ’s body in the New Testament. Romans 12:5 and 1 Corinthians 12:12-13 both discuss we are one body—Christ’s body with many parts. Think back to Luke 22, what did Jesus first say about this unleavened bread, representation of his body? He gave thanks. Could that mean that Jesus gave thanks for you and me if we are His body?
The second phrase Jesus used when referring to the unleavened bread was, “he broke it in pieces.” Could that mean that we as Christ’s body are to be broken for the world?
1 Corinthians 5:8 tells us:
“Therefore let us keep the Festival, not with the old bread leavened with malice and wickedness,
but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.”
Bread mixed with yeast cannot be unleavened by any effort and the same is true of us. Unleavening is His work, not ours. The breaking of His body and the shedding of His blood brought redemption, making us white as snow. There is nothing that we can do to bring redemption to ourselves. Take time to praise God today for the peace offering He sent on our behalf.
May we, as Christ’s body, be broken for those who have not experienced His redemption. May we spend time praying for those that do not know Him. And may we dedicate ourselves to fulfilling the Great Commission of teaching and preaching the gospel to others. Oh, may we just not say prayers with little emotion. Let us not skip sharing His story because we are afraid or uncertain. Lord, let our hearts be broken as we think of those who don’t know you.
An unleavened or “azumos” definition was uncorrupted. Isn’t that how we stand before God because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? Uncorrupted, unleavened because of His redeeming work!
Karen lives in Madison, Alabama with her husband and three children. Karen graduated in 1996 from Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR. Karen has served as Preschool and Children’s Pastor and has been involved in women’s ministry for many years leading small groups, making hospital visits, organizing retreats, and encouraging the hearts of women. Karen now blogs at Glimpses of Faith and Struggles. What started out as a way to communicate medical facts, has become a place where Karen uses life experiences to encourage others in their life journey. When she’s not busy caring for her family or writing, you might find her cooking or crafting.
Karen blogs at www.glimpsesoffaithandstruggles.com
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Linking Up With
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Faith On Fire, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Soul Survival, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots, and Fresh Market Friday, Salt and Light, and Becoming Press’s Writer Wednesday, Moments of Hope